The Student’s Prayer….

Former President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam quoted this poem – The Student’s Prayer , while expressing his views on the need for creativity in our classrooms. I had the good fortune of listening to his views on the same issue at one of the Leadership Forum’s organized by TFI last year.

He came across this poem while reading the book Spiritual Intelligence, The Ultimate Intelligence by Danah Zohar and Ian Marshall. “The young son of a Chilean biologist, Umberto Maturana, became unhappy at school because he felt his teachers were making it impossible for him to learn. They wanted to teach him what they knew, rather than drawing out what he needed to learn. As a result Maturana wrote “The Student’s Prayer”, of which this translation is an abridged version. It perfectly expresses the spiritually intelligent individual’s response to the conforming pressures of parents, teachers, bosses or the crowd.


The Student’s Prayer


Don’t impose on me what you know,

I want to explore the unknown

And be the source of my own discoveries.

Let the known be my liberation, not my slavery.


The world of your truth can be my limitation;

Your wisdom my negation.

Don’t instruct me; let’s walk together.

Let my richness begin where yours ends.


Show me so that I can stand

On your shoulders.

Reveal yourself so that I can be

Something different.


You believe that every human being

Can love and create.

I understand, then, your fear

When I ask you to live according to your wisdom.


You will not know who I am

By listening to yourself.

Don’t instruct me; let me be.

Your failure is that I be identical to you.


These few lines in bold, I found them very insightful. As the cohort of 2010  at Teach For India progresses towards the end of the first year of teaching , there is a lot of talk about transformational teaching and what that would look like in our classrooms. This poem in way I guess is a guideline for being a transformational teacher or at least it’s a good place to start thinking about it.


2 thoughts on “The Student’s Prayer….

  1. Brilliant! Thanks for sharing.. Not everyone can casually translate their thoughts into words and the others become poets. Dedicating this to the former class of people of which I am a part of! Truly empathize with every word of the poem!

    • Yeah…. it’s very beautifully written… and I guess to a large extent, it seems more so, coz of the richness of Mr Kalam’s persona … spills into this translation……

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